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pookster1127 - Jul 7, 2013 11:00 pm - Voted 10/10

Thoughts on Eric Metcalf - died one year ago tomorrow

I climbed yesterday at Moore's Wall. Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of Eric Metcalf's death while rappelling on Sentinel Buttress Direct P2. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Metcalfs in their loss.

I have seen online various reports and discussions of his death, including several posts by his father consoling Eric's friends who were with him that day and encouraging those climbers who try to learn from the accident - this despite the huge grief he and his family must be feeling. His father had been a climbing instructor in the Boy Scouts and Eric grew up in the outdoors.

Among his many talents and accomplishments, Eric was an exceptional climber - only two years older than me at his death. He was well known in the Raleigh climbing community. His death hits very close to home, though I never met him.

By chance yesterday, I briefly shared the Crow's Nest with a family friend of the Metcalfs. He was climbing Zoo View while we were on the P2 on Sentinel Buttress direct, both belaying from the roomy ledge.

The rappel into the Crow's Nest from the top of P2 on Sentinel Buttress Direct requires every bit of a 60 meter rope including the full stretch. Even so, if a 60M is set up exactly on the midpoint the ends are still about 1.5 meters off the ledge at full stretch - about 3 meters off before the stretch. Anyone rapping off those bolts should know the length of their rope, the exact mid-point, and tie knots in the ends.

The fellow told me that Eric rapped with only one rope clipped into his rappel device. On-line reports from his climbing partners said he fell about 30 feet to a small ledge about 12 feet above the Crow's nest. It is hard to understand how this could have happened - how he could have gotten more than one half of the way down the rappel before his fall with only one rope clipped. Perhaps rope drag prevented the rope from threading through the bolted anchor until he was lower on the face.

One other possibility is that he rapped off the end of one his ropes. I am not sure whether anyone has made the determination. In any case anyone on that rappel should be extremely cautious.

We did the rappel yesterday with two ropes just to be extra safe.

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